How to appreciate blade quality.
Generally, we appreciate blades with the three elements.
At first shape, then steel, and then hamon.
1) Shape

You must take an over-all look at the blade first.
Seeing the shape completely is very important to appreciate blades.
It should be well-ordered from the bottom of tang to the top of kissaki.
All the elements of the blade are condensed to its shape.
So understanding the distinction between good shape and poor shape is necessary to know its quality.
For the good shape, every line must be smooth and sharp, every surface even, and full meat is kept on the cutting surface.
And the harmony of the whole shape is most important.
A good shape will come from good steel and good tempering.
It illustrates a sense of the smith.
But it is difficult to explain the "shape" by words or images. "Good shape" doesn't mean some design of blade. It is general word used for every kind of style of blades.
(=> styles of shape)
(=> kissaki, fumbari)
(=> shaping)

2) Steel

Steel is a base of blade quality.
A good steel is necessary for good shape and for good tempering effect. It is not a meaning of layer pattern.
(=> steel)
(=> particles of steel)

3) Hamon

Various types of Hamon patterns are attractive for beginners eye, but to see the quality of hamon is far more important.
Utsuri (shadow of hamon) also can be seen by this way.
Real colours come up.
(=> hamon)
(=> nie/nioi)
(=> utsuri)

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